Approach and governance for environment
Our Group-wide Environment Policy, which can be found on our website, outlines our ongoing commitment to manage, monitor and reduce the environmental impacts caused by our business through continual improvement of our operations. It also sets our commitments to minimising the adverse impacts of our operations on biodiversity.
Each month, we report internally on environmental incidents and near misses, and the Board receives regular updates as part of the CEO report. We respond to, and track actions taken from, substantiated environmental complaints made in relation to our operations. We also investigate environmental incidents in relation to our operations (e.g., waste spillage or nearmiss contamination event) to establish root causes and learn the appropriate lessons, which we then share across the business.
Environmental Management Systems
During 2022, the environmental management of our Generation assets in the UK was certified to ISO 14001:2015 and these assets continue to be subject to regular external verification.
Environmental performance data is available in our ESG Data Supplement.
Emissions to air
Drax Power Station is required to comply with UK laws and regulations which limit emissions to atmosphere. New standards came into effect in August 2021 under the Industrial Emissions Directive and
Large Combustion Plant Best Available Techniques Reference Document (BREF) which sets limits for emissions. 2022 was the first year of operation under the annual emission limits for biomass.
Our operations in the US and Canada which manufacture biomass pellets are also subject to laws and regulations which limit emissions to atmosphere and set requirements on the level of selfmonitoring and reporting which is required to be undertaken.
The use of water is subject to strict criteria, compliance with written procedures and also UK, US and Canadian laws. That compliance is overseen internally by the HSE teams and externally by the local regulatory agencies.
Drax Power Station uses water for operational and cooling processes, the volumes of which are shown in the table above. A primary use for the water at
Drax Power Station is when it is heated to produce steam at very high pressure which is used to power the turbines that generate the electricity. Of the water used a proportion is emitted as water vapour, through our cooling towers. The remainder is recycled and discharged under permit to the local river. In line with our permit requirements, procedures are in place to manage water system efficiency and usage – ensuring we meet all discharge consent limits. Compared to 2021, our total water abstracted for generation decreased from 64,140,878m3 to 51,899,818m3 – once again, this was related to the operational position (i.e. MW produced) for 2022.
In 2022, we diverted 3,389,452,345 m3 of water from river systems to run through our plants before being redirected back into the river for hydro generation at the Galloway and Lanark Hydro Scheme.
At Cruachan Power Station (our pumped storage facility), we generate electricity by allowing water to fall from Cruachan dam down through four turbines which generate electricity at times of demand for power from business and consumers. The water flows through the turbines before being directed into Loch Awe. At times when demand from business and consumers falls, there is excess power on the grid. We use the excess power to pump water from Loch Awe into the upper reservoir at Cruachan dam. We closelymonitor the arrangements for the cycling of this water and report to SEPA as required.